Steven Morelli stole from 22 clients and will be disbarred
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that an attorney whose office is in Garden City and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from 22 clients’ settlement funds pleaded guilty today to grand larceny charges.
Steven Morelli, 60, pleaded guilty in front of Acting Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty to three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony) and five counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony). The defendant is due back on June 9 for sentencing and faces 2-1/2 years to 7-1/2 years in prison. The defendant agreed to the Court’s issuance of restitution orders of approximately $615,000.00. Additionally, prior to plea, the defendant paid restitution of approximately $170,000.00.
“Attorneys are entrusted with a special responsibility to act in their clients’ best interests, but instead this defendant treated his clients’ settlement funds as his personal piggy bank,” DA Singas said. “I am grateful to the NCPD and our prosecutors for bringing this defendant to justice and ensuring that he will never practice law again.”
DA Singas said that from February 2015 through August 2015, the defendant retained and misused settlement checks from four clients totaling $150,000.00. After a joint investigation was conducted by the NCDA and the NCPD Crimes Against Property Squad he was arrested by Nassau County Police detectives for that crime in February 2016.
The investigation continued after the initial arrest and uncovered 13 more victims, who had approximately $573,000.00 in stolen funds. The defendant was then re-arrested in May 2016 for these crimes. The joint investigation continued after the second arrest and revealed five additional victims and client thefts of approximately $64,000.00. In total, Morelli stole more than $785,000.00 from his clients.
The defendant used the money for personal purposes and to carry on his law practice. Because of the defendant’s plea to a felony charge he will be automatically disbarred.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Contreras of DA Singas’ Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Morelli is represented by Marc Gann, Esq. and Zeena Abdi, Esq.